In early December, former senior officials, as well as A-list experts and scholars converged in Tokyo to discuss the fate of the international order at the inaugural Tokyo Global Dialogue, hosted by the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA). The topic: "Is it possible to build an international order based on free, fair and transparent rules?"

Certainly, the rules-based liberal international order is under assault on a number of fronts: the rise of protectionism and widespread authoritarianism, growing skepticism about liberal values and the malfunctioning of international institutions.

As outlined by several speakers at the conference, including former U.S. deputy national security advisor Avril Haines and Bill Emmott, chairman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, these concerns are symptoms, rather than a cause of the current stress on the international system.